Dr. Durham has been involved in the development of public policy on environmental and energy issues for the past thirty years. He has supplied comprehensive input on Federal, State, and local regulations. He has been asked to testify to Congress on numerous occasions.
He has served in the leadership of several organizations including:
- National Coal Council (Chairman)
- Institute of Clean Air Companies (Past President and Director)
- Air and Waste Management Association (Technical Committee Leadership)
- American Coal Council (Director)
Need for Support for Clean Coal Technology
To address the issue of increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, we will need all the tools available, including clean coal technology. However, because of the size and scale of equipment necessary to reduce emissions from power plants, projects can cost from $50-100 Million to several $Billion. It also takes five to ten years or more to advance technology to a commercial readiness.
This creates a “chicken and egg” dilemma in which technology companies cannot justify huge capital expenditures for R&D because there are no regulatory drivers creating markets for the technology, and the power generating companies are restricted by their local public utility commissions (PUC) from expenditures for equipment that they are not currently required to operate. This creates a gap that can only be bridged by Federal funding in the form of Tax Credits and R&D Grants. Without this Federal support, there will be no technology options available for the power industry in the future to address reducing carbon emission from fossil-fuel electrical generating facilities.
The importance of financial support for developing technology for clean coal in the US goes beyond the impact of the resulting technology on the power plants. The US is burning only approximately 700 Million tons of coal per year compared to 7 Billion tons burned annually worldwide. Since the US is traditionally responsible for innovations in many technology areas, it is unlikely that a global effort to reduce carbon emissions can be effectively be accomplished without advancing technologies by US companies and exporting the technology overseas.
There are currently efforts underway in Congress to provide the necessary financial support for the development and demonstration of clean coal technology directed at reducing emissions of carbon dioxide. One effort is focused on increasing and extending Section 45Q tax credits for carbon capture, utilization, and sequestration (CCUS). This will help reduce the costs and risks associated with the installation of technology to capture carbon dioxide generated by a coal-fired plant and compressing it for injection deep underground. A second effort is directed at providing tax credits as an incentive to develop technology for reducing carbon emissions from existing coal-fired plants by increasing their generating efficiency. A more efficient plant generates lower quantities of carbon dioxide per MW-hour of electricity generated.
The proposal described here would provide a tax credit of $30 per ton of carbon dioxide that was eliminated by the installation of new technology. This proposal would have the dual benefit of creating near-term $50 to $100 Million of jobs at several power plants, but also result in new technologies helping the power industries meet future carbon reduction requirements.
National Coal Council (NCC)
The National Coal Council (NCC) is a Federal Advisory Committee that provides advice to the Secretary of Energy on matters impacting mining, transportation, and use of coal in the United States. The country has vast reserves of accessible coal capable of suppling the nations energy needs for 250 years. Members are appointed to the NCC by the Secretary to represent a wide range of interests and expertise. NCC prepares reports in response to requests from the Secretary on specific matters. Below are some of the recent reports prepared by NCC. Others are available on the NCC website.
August 2016 CO2 Building Blocks: Assessing CO2 Utilization Options
January 2015 Fossil Forward – Revitalizing CCS
June 2012 – Harnessing Coal ‘s Carbon Content to Advance the Economy, Environment, and Energy Security
March 2011 – Expedited CCS Development: Challenges & Opportunities
December 2009 – Low-Carbon Coal
May 2008 – The Urgency of Sustainable Coal
June 2007 – Technologies to Reduce or Capture and Store Carbon Dioxide Emissions
Institute of Clean Air Companies (ICAC)
The Institute of Clean Air Companies is the trade association of companies that provide commercial air pollution control equipment to measure and reduce emissions from power plants and industrial operations. The organization produces technical reports on the capabilities and costs of emission control technology for use by customers and regulators. It also provides information on new developing technologies as information becomes available. Dr. Durham served the organization as Director for over 20 years, Officer for 10 years, and President for two years (2013-2015).